The government says lions are endangered. Here's why that's a good thing.

Two subspecies of lions were just added to the government's list of endangered species.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced on Dec. 21 that two subspecies of lion will be granted new federal protections as endangered species. One, found in central-to-western Africa and India, will be listed as endangered. The other, found in eastern-to-southern Africa, will be listed as threatened.

But it's actually good news.



Image via BBC.

This is a way for the U.S. government to put new restrictions around trophy hunting.

The government can't regulate what other countries do with their animals. So if countries like Zimbabwe want to let hunts continue, the U.S. can't stop them.

But the government can make it less appealing for Americans to participate in the kind of trophy hunts, such as the one that let a now-infamous dentist shoot and kill Cecil the lion earlier this year. His death caused an international uproar, which you may remember.

Now hunters will find it a lot harder to get any trophies they do kill back into the U.S. Many will be outright prohibited. Hunting permits will also be stricter and more expensive.

"The lion is one of the planet's most beloved species and an irreplaceable part of our shared global heritage," said Dan Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "If we want to ensure that healthy lion populations continue to roam the African savannas and forests of India, it's up to all of us — not just the people of Africa and India — to take action."

As their new listing suggests, lions are having a tough time lately.

In the last 10,000 years, lions have disappeared from the majority of their historical range.

Image from Tommyknocker/Wikimedia Commons.

And it's not been any better in the last few decades. Habitat loss, hunting, and other threats have wiped out about 40% of lions over the last 21 years. It's estimated that less than 40,000 adult lions remain.

One of the places they usually receive some modicum of protection is in national parks.

That's why Cecil's case was so devastating. Cecil had been living in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, where he was a bit of a celebrity and part of a group of lions that University of Oxford had been studying for years. But instead of being safe, Cecil was lured out of the park and killed.

This action gives lions the same federal protections that has helped save animals like the bald eagle from extinction.

During the 1960s, it was estimated that only about 400 nesting pairs of bald eagles were left in the lower 48 states. But the government took action, using regulations and other measures to protect the birds. The population bounced back, and now there are nearly 10,000 pairs in the contiguous U.S.

So hopefully, adding these kind of protections to lions might put them back on the road to recovery as well. Many lion cousins — tigers, leopards, cheetahs, jaguars, and cougars — are already waiting for them in the circle of protection.

Conservation groups petitioned the government to protect lions a few years ago, but the government says their decision was mostly based on new scientific data about lion populations and genetics.

This action will hopefully take a bit of the edge off the hunting pressure and help to keep lions around for a long time. Which makes me feel all:

Image from "The Lion King."

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

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It must be terribly unnerving to wake up one day and realize the government thinks you're dead, even though you're alive and kicking. You'd figure that if you were declared dead and weren't, you'd have some say in the matter.

However, for a woman in France, things haven't been that easy.

Jeanne Pouchain, 58, who lives in the village of St. Joseph, near Lyon, had a rude awakening three years ago when she received a letter from the Lyon court of appeals declaring that her family members need to pay the money she allegedly owed.

Because, according to state records, she was deceased.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.